Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia. Lalibela means "Eat honey". It is at roughly 2,500 m (8,200 ft) altitude. It is famous for its monolithic rock-hewn churches. These churches are carved out of solid rock. They were likely built in the 12th and 13th century. The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are three groups of these churches.

Northern Group:

  1. Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), home to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, probably a copy of St Mary of Zion in Aksum.
  2. Biete Maryam (House of Miriam/House of Mary), possibly the oldest of the churches, and a replica of the Tombs of Adam and Christ.
  3. Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael), known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela.
  4. Biete Meskel (House of the Cross)
  5. Biete Denagel (House of Virgins)

Western Group:

  1. Biete Giyorgis (Church of Saint George), thought to be the most finely executed and best preserved church

Eastern Group:

  1. Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), possibly the former royal chapel
  2. Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreus/House of St. Mark), which may be a former prison
  3. Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos)
  4. Biete Gabriel-Rufael (House of the angels Gabriel and Raphael) possibly a former royal palace, linked to a holy bakery.
  5. Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread)

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Lalibela

View Lalibela
View of Lalibela. (1009k)
View Traditional Lalibela Round
View of traditional Lalibela. The round huts are traditional houses. (1117k)
Old Lalibela
Old Lalibela. (981k)
Traditional House
Traditional house. (901k)
View Modern Lalibela
View of modern Lalibela. (826k)
View Biete Maryam Center
View of Biete Maryam (center) and Biete Medhane Alem (right). (1043k)
Grave Sites Rock Churches
Grave sites near the rock churches. (1278k)

Biete Maryam

House of Mary, possibly the oldest of the churches, a replica of the Tombs of Adam and Christ.

Biete Maryam House Mary
Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (684k)
Biete Maryam House Mary
Biete Maryam (House of Mary) with a baptism pool in the foreground. (801k)
Inside Biete Maryam House
Inside of Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (648k)
Decorations Biete Maryam House
Decorations in Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (807k)
Paintings Biete Maryam House
Paintings in Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (820k)
Inside Biete Maryam House
Inside of Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (692k)
Inside Biete Maryam House
Inside of Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (795k)
Painting Inside Biete Maryam
Painting inside of Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (938k)
Stone Carved Relief Inside
Stone carved relief inside of Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (1043k)
Stone Carved Relief Inside
Stone carved relief inside of Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (952k)
Windows Biete Maryam House
Windows on Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (924k)
Ceiling Decorations Biete Maryam
Ceiling decorations in Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (835k)
Priests Ceremonial Drums
Priests with ceremonial drums. (870k)
Worshipers Biete Maryam House
Worshipers near Biete Maryam (House of Mary). (824k)

Biete Medhane Alem

House of the Saviour of the World, believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world.

Biete Medhane Alem House
Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World). (760k)
Biete Medhane Alem House
Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World). (863k)
Windows Biete Medhane Alem
Windows on Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World). (827k)
Decorations Biete Medhane Alem
Decorations on Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World). (1122k)
Inside Biete Medhane Alem
Inside of Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World). All the pillars are part of the solid rock out of which the church was carved. (724k)
Inside Biete Medhane Alem
Inside of Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the World). (987k)
Easter Celebration Biete Medhane
Easter celebration in Biete Medhane Alem. (638k)
Easter Celebration Biete Medhane
Easter celebration in Biete Medhane Alem. (613k)
Easter Celebration Biete Medhane
Easter celebration in Biete Medhane Alem. It was VERY crowded in that church. (676k)
Priest Studying
Priest, studying. (861k)

Biete Meskel

House of the Cross. This is a small monolithic church, next to Biete Maryam.

Biete Meskel House Cross
Biete Meskel (House of the Cross). (951k)
Windows Biete Meskel House
Windows on Biete Meskel (House of the Cross). (1129k)

Biete Giyorgis

This is the most finely executed and best preserved church in Lalibela.

Biete Giyorgis House Saint
Biete Giyorgis (House of Saint George). (921k)
Biete Giyorgis House Saint
Biete Giyorgis (House of Saint George). (1181k)
Entrance Biete Giyorgis House
Entrance to Biete Giyorgis (House of Saint George). (688k)
Path Entrance Biete Giyorgis
Path down to the entrance of Biete Giyorgis (House of Saint George). (884k)
Inside Biete Giyorgis
Inside of Biete Giyorgis. (643k)
Inside Biete Giyorgis
Inside of Biete Giyorgis. (865k)
Painting Biete Giyorgis Painting
Painting in Biete Giyorgis. This painting is 500 years old. It shows St. George slaying the dragon. (796k)

Biete Gabriel-Rufael

House of the angels Gabriel and Raphael, possibly a former royal palace, linked to a holy bakery. It is currently not an active church. Scholars think this church may have been a fortified palace for Aksumite royalty in the 7th and 8th centuries.

This church has two rooms. The second room can only be reached through a small door from the first room. It has a door that leads to the king's sun platform.

Biete Gabriel-rufael Background
Biete Gabriel-Rufael in the background. (1126k)
Biete Gabriel-rufael Kings Sun
Biete Gabriel-Rufael with the kings sun platform on the right. It can only be reached through the church. On the left you can just see the bridge that is the only access to this church. (987k)
Wood Entrance Door
Wood entrance door. (992k)
Inside Biete Gabriel-rufael
Inside of Biete Gabriel-Rufael. (712k)
Painting Biete Gabriel-rufael
Painting in Biete Gabriel-Rufael. (909k)
Door Second Room Biete
Door to the second room in Biete Gabriel-Rufael. (712k)
Second Room Biete Gabriel-rufael
The second room of Biete Gabriel-Rufael with the door to the king's sun platform. (611k)
Painting Biete Gabriel-rufael
Painting in Biete Gabriel-Rufael. (928k)
Hermit Cave Biete Gabriel-rufael
Hermit cave near Biete Gabriel-Rufael. (1013k)
Path Between Biete Gabriel-rufael
Path between Biete Gabriel-Rufael and Biete Amanuel. (891k)

Biete Amanuel

House of Emmanuel, possibly the former royal chapel. It is a free standing church. It is an active church.

Biete Amanuel
Biete Amanuel. (691k)
Biete Amanuel
Biete Amanuel. (602k)
Window Biete Amanuel
Window in Biete Amanuel. (1122k)
Inside Biete Amanuel
Inside Biete Amanuel. (737k)
Painting Biete Amanuel
Painting in Biete Amanuel. (974k)
Baptism Pool Biete Amanuel
Baptism pool at Biete Amanuel. (692k)
Ceiling Biete Amanuel
Ceiling in Biete Amanuel. (638k)
Inside Biete Amanuel
Inside Biete Amanuel. (615k)
Inside Biete Amanuel
Inside Biete Amanuel. (703k)
Priest Guarding Inner Sanctum
Priest guarding the inner sanctum in Biete Amanuel. (749k)
Youths Studying Scripture
Youths studying scripture. (989k)
Worshiper Biete Amanuel
Worshiper at Biete Amanuel. (798k)

Biete Abba Libanos

Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos) is carved into the cliff face with a path all the way round, thus forming a cave.

Biete Abba Libanos
Biete Abba Libanos. (737k)
Cave Behind Biete Abba
The cave behind Biete Abba Libanos. (890k)
Path Biete Abba Libanos
Path to Biete Abba Libanos. (937k)
Path Biete Abba Libanos
In the path to Biete Abba Libanos. (729k)

Biete Lehem

House of Holy Bread. It is one of the smaller churches. From Biete Lehem you take a tunnel to Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. It is dark and narrow.

Biete Lehem
Biete Lehem. (899k)
Stairs Tunnel Between Biete
Stairs to the tunnel between Biete Lehem and Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (756k)

Biete Qeddus Mercoreus

House of St. Mercoreus/House of St. Mark, which may be a former prison.

Biete Qeddus Mercoreus
Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (794k)
Inside Biete Qeddus Mercoreus
Inside Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (708k)
Stone Bell Biete Qeddus
The stone bell at Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (1089k)
Exit Tunnel Between Biete
Exit from the tunnel between Biete Lehem and Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (787k)
Saint Marco Roman Saint
Saint Marco, a roman saint, killing an invader, painting in Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (805k)
Religious Painting Biete Qeddus
Religious painting in Biete Qeddus Mercoreus. (726k)

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Page last updated on Mon Apr 20 10:12:31 2020 (Mountain Standard Time)


Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela on guenther-eichhorn.com


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